Replenishing Your Exceptional Batteries By Pursuing A Hobby

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I have been reading a great book lately given to me by a dear friend, “Simple Abundance-A Daybook of Comfort and Joy,” by Sarah Ban Breathnach. In it are wonderful morsels of information for all women on how to live a more balanced, mindful existence. This is all great in theory for so many, but how do we practice being more mindful in every day life in order to be more open to the people and the opportunities around us? It’s not easy, but like everything we are teaching our Exceptional Child, we pace ourselves one step at a time. Each day is a little nugget of information that offers wonderful tips on how women can connect to their inner selves by the simple acts of when they are cooking, gardening, and in the last few days, finding time for solitude and hobbies. Yeah right, you’re probably thinking now. I’ll have time for solitude and a hobby when the kids are grown up, the house is fixed up, and I don’t have to juggle work, cleaning a home and caring for family. We all say this. I said it many times. But it is possible to carve out time for you. It is also necessary for your vitality and survival.

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The last page I  read talks about making a list of things that fill you with passion and deciding on one from that list that you will practice as a hobby a week from the time you read that page. Wow. This is something that I have been itching to do, but have been making excuses. Why? Fear. But my new motto for the remainder of 2017 has been a great quote from Brene Brown, “Courage through vulnerability.” Another quote I have been saying to myself is “feel the fear and do it anyway.” You’ll be happy you did. You’ll be happy you carved out time for you. I see Michael drawing, painting, dabbling in making bracelets. I see how he doesn’t care if he is good or not. He is enjoying the process. As adults we have forgotten that. In trying to teach our children the basics, we forget about doing things for the pleasure and happiness it gives us, not just to do it right. Today Exceptional Moms and  Dads, we need to replenish our parenting batteries by finding some time to set aside for a hobby, anything that fills us with pleasure. It will make a huge difference in how we parent, he we feel and and how we live. If you are in the early stages of handling your child’s autism diagnosis, it is a very difficult and stressful stage. Some time doing a hobby like drawing, painting, writing a poem, or creating anything,  can be the breath of fresh air, even if you can only squeeze in a few minutes here or there. For parents later on in the journey as your child progresses, it is so important to maintain your individuality separate from your child so that they do not feel you are living for them and they for you. You are two separate beings who love each other, but have lives and interests outside each other.

Exceptional Parents, do you practice a hobby and spend time alone whenever you can? Remember, as hard as it is, it is vital for your spirit and overall health. The person that is fully charged, excited about life and living their life with passion in every way, is the best example for their Exceptional Child on how to live life fully and in the moment. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.

For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at joanne@creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.

 

Passions That Can Turn Into Professions-How To Encourage Your Exceptional Child To Build Their Future

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As I was cooking homemade chicken nuggets with Michael yesterday evening, I was reminded once again by what Temple Grandin, a thriving businesswomen, academic and autistic individual said about helping our kids find their career paths by encouraging them in their interests and hobbies. This is advice really for any parent for any child. But for children with autism, sometimes it is not that obvious if their interests are a little more obscure. It’s easier now with Michael who loves cooking, baking and mapping. Still, whenever I see an interest I will let him know that this is something people can do for a living. It’s planting the seed, if you will. You never know how it will go. Now, whenever Michael cooks or bakes with me, the dish comes out tasting better than when I made it. I kid you not. He enjoys the process too, the preparation of ingredients, the mixing, the cooking and the presentation. Of course, then there is the eating part.

When your child is practicing their hobby they are also excited, in their comfort zone, and relaxed so it is a great time to work on their life skills in other areas. As a parent, you can talk about your own interests and how this has helped you in your life and career. Maybe you are doing a job directly related to your passion, your hobby. Maybe your career is different and you unwind with your hobby. Either way your child gets to see how happy and complete your hobby makes you. It is important for overall balance to find happiness in what you do for a living, or have a sideline that makes you know your purpose that much more fully. Plus, as a bonus you get to bond with your child and build on your closeness. Words are not necessary when they and you are in the zone. Time passes in a relatively relaxed way.

Exceptional Parents, what are your child’s interests? As strange or obscure as they may seem to onlookers, this can be encouraged in them as a possible future career or a hobby that could help them meet others like them. They can build social connections, friendships, and learn and grow as a parent. As you would encourage them in everything else, build on their interests. What you will have in return is child that will grow more comfortable in their own skin. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.

For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at joanne@creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.

 

 

How Avoiding Conflict Does Not Help You Or Your Exceptional Child

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So I have had to face something recently that I am not really proud of. I say those words, but then I add to myself what I learned in therapy many years ago, “It’s ok. We are all human. We all make mistakes. You are doing the best that you can.” What I am not really proud of is how I have slowly been letting my worry over Michael having an emotional or aggressive outburst cause me to give him chances when he has been acting up. The acting up has been more little testing her and there; rude language, minor emotional blowups, but I sat down last night and thought that I have been worried about him escalating to his aggressive point of a few months ago, and I have been unintentionally giving him the green light to be rude at times. I also have been giving up going out with friends when he would have trigger moments with Dad. I stayed home to defuse the tensions, and rightfully believed this was  helpful. I realized it was not subconsciously, and last night decided that a little tiff between Michael and Dad would not stop me from going out. It almost did, but I told them to deal with it and I left. What helped me? I’d like to say it was all my own inner resolve, but as always, Michael gave me the push I needed when he said, “Mommy, you need to stay home. Daddy and I will not be fine.” The thing is he said it with a little smile on his face. Gotcha Mom! I’d been had for  awhile. The lesson I learned is that being afraid of a reaction and putting the brakes on our children’s emotions, does not help any of us find better strategies and move forward. I was guilty of putting on the brakes.

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Several friends have recently gently chided me for backing out on plans due to worries about how Michael will do. They were all so understanding about my situation of the last six months, so I thanked them, and told them they were right. Somewhere along the line I had forgotten that we teach our child how to treat us, how resilient they and we are by our actions, and that playing peacemaker and being afraid of conflict comes at a huge price to us and our children. We send the message, unintentionally, that we and they cannot cope. Going out with friends or alone sometimes also means parents are practicing self-care which helps them become stronger and able to see when old habits that are not healthy are slipping back in. Last week, I went for my seasonal Hamaan. Yes, I now go once a season. It’s an inexpensive way for me to relax and recharge my batteries in the saunas and whirlpools. I sometimes go with friends, but love going alone too. As a close friend once commented, that is when you can truly relax and unwind-when there is no one else to talk to. And I felt not an ounce of guilt that I was doing this for me. It took me a long time to get here-four years. There are still times I do feel guilty about taking care of me. It is a process, as they say, but I am getting there.

Exceptional Parents, what bad habits have you seen creeping back into your parenting-such as avoiding conflict and not prioritizing self-care? Don’t feel guilty. We all do it Moms and Dads. We all see our friends struggling and give them great advice that we don’t follow ourselves. Next time you find yourself slipping, try this trick when you start talking yourself out of your fear and not facing it; “What would I tell my friend to do in this situation?” Chances are it will be to stay calm, direct, honest and to take good care of your self so your patience is as strong as it can be. And if it isn’t in that moment, forgive yourself and learn for the future. You’ll get there. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.

For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at joanne@creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.

Navigating The Tough Line of Choice Versus Following Set Routines-What I Have Learned As An Exceptional Parent

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So this is where we are at with Michael now. He is quite good at following a set routine. When the consequences are clear and he knows where he stands, he will listen with limited stress. Yet every once in a while due to wanting to test a little more beyond boundaries set, he will ask for choice where either there is no choice or he will push to change things. One of the hardest things I have had to learn to navigate in the last six months with Michael, is when to give him choice over an activity, a routine or an outing, and when to put it down on paper as law and stick to that routine. It’s not as easy as it sounds. It is both a dream and a nightmare to have a kid who does well with set schedules and routines. When the routine is in place, it is pure bliss, or as close as possible for families. But when one thing is removed or has to be altered, this can be extremely tough or sometimes even disastrous. Michael can be quite rigid, but due to the fact that we are now altering things deliberately sometimes in his routine, he is becoming a little more flexible. The problem was before I was doing too much altering, too much choice, too much flexibility. And Michael, well, he was floundering like a fish out of water. So how does a parent find that right balance?

First of all, you have to know your child. You have to know how much flexibility to give and when to stand your ground. Also, never forget you are the parent and you set the routine, not in some dictator like way, but in the way you are supposed to as the adult. What I keep repeating to myself and what has made the hugest difference to me are the following words: “I am the adult. I am in charge. I trust in myself to make the rules clear to Michael.” But first Moms and Dads, you need to get your confidence back as parents. Mine went down the toilet over the earlier course of this year. I felt that I was not tuning in properly to Michael. I was missing something. I was. It was confidence in myself as a Mom to know what makes me tick and what I needed to do to help my child to not be scared and test. When there is consistency every time a parent respondds a certian way,  a child will relax. Yes, they will test, (and child, exceptional ones more so), but they will grow to know how you as the parent will respond. Consistency is important across the board with both parents everywhere, as is staying calm or as calm as possible. These are lessons I have learned and continue to learn every day.

Also, Moms and Dads, you need to see how your child is triggering you. Yes, they do that to test their own limits, and yours. They want to see if you still love them and how much. If you are confident in your abilities as a parent, this will not be a setback. You will learn from it and get stronger. I was lucky to have worked with a strong support team and know they are there if I need them again. It is essential for both yourself and your child you build a strong support team. I call mine “Team Michael” and “Team Joanne.” Don’t hesitate to find yours should you be floundering in your confidence as a parent.

Exceptional Parents, how do you ride that fine line between discipline and your child’s independence? How do you navigate raising them with rules and flexibility? It’s not easy, and all our Exceptional Children are different. As always, trust your gut first. You know what works for your child, but remember sometimes what they think they want is not what they need. Stability, rules and a consistent way of handling situations is what our Exceptional Children need to thrive. Work in choice and flexibility around a good strong routine. That will bring peace to your relationship with your child. Until next time.

 

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.

For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at joanne@creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.

Join Or Fight The Stim – That is The Question

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Stimming or stim- a self-stimulatory behavior that pretty much all people with autism do to regulate their nervous systems, handle stress, anxiety, noise and excitement in their own way. This is something all of their neuro typical parents fear. Why? Well, when they are stimming they are not responding to us most of the time. They are lost in “that world” the world where non autistics don’t go, the one where we as parents do not feel wanted, the one we fear as that was where our children were as babies  when they were unreachable pretty much most of the time. As they got older, whether they became verbal or not, chances are they got more reachable, they joined us in our world and we felt, great our child is here now. Let’s teach them. Let’s have a relationship with them. But did we join them in their world? In short, yes.

With Michael, this was something I fought for years, stopping him stimming. He likes to rock and “clink” his chewy or any other kind of soft toy. He carries it everywhere, and if he is told at school, camp or at an activity to put it down he will. He will also put it down for logistics like eating, showering and toileting, but he will need it the rest of the time. I fought for a while to try and get him at first to stop stimming, not understanding that it is as essential as breathing for him as it is for all autistic people. You see, I was afraid of stims, and as a parent I still have to stop myself when he is stimming from panicking a little that my little boy will be so happy doing that he won’t want a relationship with me. I used to even tell the grandparents when he was younger to interrupt the stim and try and stop it. I’ve known better for years now. The only thing I do tell him, and that is as much for his making his way easier in the world, that he should stim a limited amount of time in public when he is with other people and do more at home. I tell Michael this both so he could be more in the moment with others, and also so he does not get comments and stares from people that do not understand. When he is home he can stim when he likes. This particular weekend he admitted he got carried away stimming and ended up going to bed late. Dad and I gently reminded him even at home, he has control over it, and can decide when to stop.

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As a parent, it took me years to change the mindset of seeing this practice as helping my child. I read and continue to follow many wonderful blogs written by autistic adults, one in particular that talked about stimming parties he had with his autistic friends. Last night at bedtime, I spoke to Michael about this. His response? “Wow, Mommy. That sounds so cool. You mean a party where I could stim with my friends?” It has really opened up my eyes about what Michael and other people with autism need. I also have some wonderful friends who though not autistic, have had mental health issues themselves like me. Their brain also works a little differently than the so-called norm. One of them once said to me, “Have you ever tried joining Michael in the stim? Do the dance Joanne.” How beautifully put. And I thought, yes, yes. She is right. As soon as I stopped fearing the unknown to my brain, that was when my relationship with Michael deepened. I wished I had known this when he was younger, but at least I learned it in his early childhood years. I now see how his stims are a part of him, just like his interests and his physical appearance, just like his smile and the rest of his personality. There is not one thing I would change about Michael. He is perfect in every way. I want to help him be successful at life, handle our world the best way he can. As I’ve said before, it’s a stressful world for those of us without different brains and sensory systems. For our kkids, it’s a daily battle to get through it sometimes. They,  and the adults with neuro developmental differences around us, are the unsung heroes of our times.

Exceptional Parents, do you “do the dance” with your Exceptional Children or do you fight it? It’s scary I know. You don’t want to feel you are losing them again. Here’s a secret. You won’t. You’ve shown them how cool our world can be with you and other loved ones in it. There’s neat things for them, even with all the stress that goes with it. So join them in their world once in a while. Let them take you by the hand and guide you on the adventure of what things look like from their perspective. If they see you trust them, they’ll trust you all the more. Happy trails ahead. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.

For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at joanne@creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.

 

Between Boyhood and Manhood-How to Handle Questions About Maturity from Your Exceptional Child

Michael is at that interesting age, not quite a young man, but not a baby yet either. He is really not a baby, and will remind me of that daily. It is still complicated further by the fact that developmentally in some ways he is still a little boy. So as his Mom I am constantly bouncing between the three; little boy, tween, and developing young man. His questions about life, his future, and even little tiffs about doing things for himself due to the fact he is “a big boy Mommy,” are all ways I am seeing him truly growing up before my eyes. It is wonderful. And the questions. Oh the questions he asks. I have to be careful sometimes when I answer. We are both talkers. I will often give long answers which will have me talking a lot. Then he will talk a lot, and with Michael it’s tricky. Talking about things can make him more anxious in some ways. It feeds the anxiety. Yet talking is important to get his feelings out. It is also my way to explain how I am feeling.  Now thought I am finding a way to talk less and listen more to him. I am also learning to talk in shorter sentences and encourage him to do the same. There is no need anymore to work on building his vocabulary. What he needs to work on now is more understanding people’s facial expressions, emotions, and how he fits into the conversation.

The morning with lots of talking are fun and exhausting at the same time. Still, I remember the days I prayed he would talk to me. They are here now and that is wonderful. I hear from parents who have the opposite problem, a child who cannot speak or communicate verbally, and that is so hard in another way. There is fine balance between verbal and non verbal too, that both camps of Moms want to find. That is the way to have a great relationship with our children. They must know when to speak and when to be quiet. We must teach them to grow up independent while also following parents’ rules which keep them safe. With a child who has special needs there are lots of different things going on at the same time. It is challenging. They have to wear many hats to survive being day to day in our world and fit in with the other people around them, and we, as their parents, also have to wear hats, hats to help our child understand neuro typical people and help neuro typical people understand them.

I used to be all about getting Michael to fit into my world, the neuro typical world. I did not see how weird it must be for him. The whole other county, other language people speak that our exceptional kids don’t always get. What has helped me as an exceptional parent is reading blogs by other exceptional adults who have autism or other neuro developmental challenges. They understand Michael in a way I am only learning to. They show the rest of the world that does not have an autistic  brain how people with autism think, feel and what they can contribute. I am humbled when I read their blogs, and consider it my duty to help the world understand people like Michael. He has brought such joy into my life, our family and to people around him. He struggles to understand things in the world, but still he is happy, positive and loves simple pleasures- time with family and friends, navigating Google Maps, cooking and baking. He makes me realize how talking and listening to each other are important for all of us.

Exceptional Parents, how are you handling the age transitions with your Exceptional Children? Do you feel like you walk a tightrope sometimes figuring out how best to explain things or when to stay quiet? All parents have to juggle this to a certain extent. In our case, it just means that we need to surround ourselves with good support systems: other parents who get our struggle, reading about or talking to adults who have autism to get more of a look inside our children’s brains, and making sure to promote neuro diversity, not just because of what our kids have taught us, but because it’s pretty cool how different we all are and that needs to be celebrated, even if sometimes we have crossed communication lines. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.

For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at joanne@creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS

Finding the Balance Between Structured and Unstructured Time In Summer

summer time.jpegMichael is enjoying summer camp, and I know that part of the reason is due to the kind of structured day he has there. He also likes that he has some choice in what he can do. Yet, even with that, he is asking when he will be home with me. This is due to the fact that there will be more unstructured time where he has my one-on-one attention, and the structure is decided partly by him and I. Walking this tightrope of balance is still relatively easy in the first part of the summer time. It will get trickier in August,  but by then there are only a few weeks left until school starts so we usually manage it well. There are also family vacations coming up in August, which is a whole other ballgame of structure and un structure.

The thing is that each family, exceptional or not, has to find out what works for them and their child. Summers are hard on a lot of children and thier families. What starts out as fun, summer vacation, may become a source of stress for some kids as they don’t know how to fill the time. All kids also need to learn how to be bored, get creative, and make their own fun. This is a whole other blog post for exceptional families, as kids with special needs often have great difficulty with using their imagination to entertain themselves. Or they will use it and play one game over and over as it is safe and predictable. For some children, their sensory needs are so great that stimming is done to a great extent and they get stuck on that reel. I have learned with Michael that giving him some choice as well as introducing him to some of my games has helped. Now that he is older, I am trying to push him out more on his own to experiment with playing. He will ask me, “can you show me how to play a game?” I am happy to do it and feed his imagination giving it that extra nudge.

Michael has also taught me the cool way his brain works, how he sees the world in the way he plays. He sees it through a lens of navigation, his imaginary friends, and through delights in food and music. He will also ask questions about things he hears, song lyrics and figures of speech. I am happy to answer them and get a glimpse into how he sees what is happening around him.

Exceptional Parents, how do you structure your child’s summer? Do you allow for a lot of downtime or just a bit? Do you let them ride through their frustrations? This is important for exceptional kids to learn to navigate. It will make them stronger, figure out what they want out of life, and will make summer more fun and full of adventure. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.

For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at joanne@creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.

Sensitivity and Managing Feelings-Yours and Your Exceptional Child’s

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Michael is a sensitive kid and being that with autism he sometimes misinterprets social cues, there can be difficult moments. He will often think a raised voice means someone is angry and be scared to face the person. He will also think a serious face means that the person may be angry at him, whether that is me or a teacher. We are doing our best to teach him to look deeper for cues, in the person’s voice, words and body language. This is tricky for him. It is tricky for many people with autism. Words and body language are  not evident. This is something therapists have talked to me about helping him with and I have increasingly tried to help him understand as well. How was she standing when she said that? Who was he talking to? What words were said? Is this a good time to talk to that person? Do they look busy?

But then I look to myself. I’ve always been a rather sensitive soul, and as a child, I would take things to heart that people said, particularly if they spoke loudly or raised their voice. If I made a mistake and my parents were upset, it took me awhile to get over it . I worried for a few hours afterwards that they were still mad. Of course, they were not. I gradually learned how to handle these feelings. I grew to have more confidence in myself and see I was lovable. I don’t have autism, but still would have these social misunderstandings. We all do. Teaching it is another thing. It requires lots of patience, and last night when I could see Michael was tired and fighting going to bed due to being worried his camp counselor was still upset about something that occurred earlier in the day, I had to remind myself to stay calm and not tell him to get over it. I had unintentionally heard that sometimes, both directly and indirectly from the adults around me, though most of the time I had sensitive responses. Michael deserved this from me too. As he reminded me what I would struggle with, it helped me be sensitive to his struggles.

Exceptional Parents, how do you present social situations to your Exceptional Child? How do they interpret them? It’s important to remember if you struggle in this area, or someone in your family does. Take that information and approach your child gently, with patience, and remember, they and you are both learning together. Life is all about learning how to adapt to our surroundings, whatever our neurological makeup. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.

For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at joanne@creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.

Letting Your Inner Self Shine Through-What Exceptional Kids Teach Us

facepaint.jpegSo Michael is at the point in his development that he wants to learn to play with toys or games, but does not know where to start. He has asked his teacher in the past and me to show him. I feel so proud that he wants to learn to do something that does not come easy. He is an imaginative child. He has written some simple, short stories about his imaginary friend and our cat going on adventures. Yes, he is quirky! And he has some figurines left from his previous toy purge and he is looking for ways to play with them. It is tricky for him. He has imagination, but it does not work like everyone else’s. This is an advantage as he comes up with new ideas and new ways to see the world. But it also makes it harder for him to see how the rest of us play and interact. It’s kind of like when I have to show him not to run up to someone he knows and start talking to them if they are talking to someone else already, it’s knowing him how to be himself in a world that is not like him, where a lot of people kind of fit the same mold.

What is so cool about Michael and kids like him though, is that he really does not care what others think. This is the flip side. Sure it’s due to the way his brain is wired, but it’s refreshing and humbling for me as his Mom to walk by his side. Last Friday he had pajama day at his camp. They also did face painting. I decided that we would pick up pizza for dinner and after camp Michael would come with me. I told him we could go home briefly to remove the face paint and for him to change. He told me no, that it didn’t bother him to go into the store in his pajamas with face paint. Wow. I don’t think I could have done that even now. It took me until my early forties to really stop caring what people thought. Michael, knows this lesson at ten. I think it is autism’s gift to him and to all people like him. As they operate the way the rest of the world does, they have their own moral code, and show us, it’s not bad. It actually can be fun if you let yourself think and live outside the box. This is truly neurodiversity, and it’s important that while parents teach their child to fit in, they must also help the world understand that it is a beautiful thing to stand out.

Exceptional Parents, when was the last time you saw your Exceptional Child’s eccentricity as one of their gifts? Remember, you can show them skills, like play skills, but in turn they have lots they can show you, like how to be true to who you are inside and  not be afraid to let your own inner quirkiness shine through. With the two of you showing the other what it’s like on the “other side”, you can both learn and grow together. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.

For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at joanne@creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.

Those Moments Your Exceptional Child Amazes You-That Is Their Potential

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The other night after a fight with Michael when he wasn’t listening and losing control of himself, we sent him to his “cool down” room. He was pretty upset in there, but eventually calmed down, apologized and his beloved stuffed animal that had been lost was found. The day had been a mix of changed plans and Michael had seemed a little on the tired side, not an excuse I know, but a fact. After he had calmed down and apologized, I did his therapeutic massage and then he went to his bedroom to lie down. Our new routine is that he calls me when he is ready to be tucked in. He likes the way I tuck the covers under his feet and shoulders. This is something I used to love as a child when my Mom did it, I sensed he might like it too. After he called out, I went to his room to say our final goodnight where I usually put the blankets on then lots of little hugs followed by a big hug happen and I say a quick prayer as well as I love you. That night though Michael surprised me. Before I could say the prayer, Michael spoke up:

“Mommy, I want you to know I talk to God sometimes and I thank him for my health, my family, my home, food, and all the things I have. I don’t pray to him out loud like you do, but I think about these things. I know it’s not as good as what you do, but it’s a start, right?”

It took me a minute to catch my breath and not start to cry. I could not believe what I was hearing! He was getting the very important spiritual message I was not pressing on him, but demonstrating through my own short prayers and life. He was getting the message about living mindfully, being grateful, and in my case, trying to show him how God could be accessed in small moments, not just in one place or time. And the beliefs that he was not alone, were coming through.

“Michael, that is good. God knows what’s in your heart always. He knows what a special boy you are and good person. He helped us find Barney, you know. I prayed for Him to help us and show us the way.”

Michael looked at me in shock, then a little smile spread across his face.

“I’m so proud of you Michael. I love you.”

“I love you too Mommy.”

And that’s when we did our hugs, I said my short prayer and left his room, full of such joy an peace. After a tough night and some ups and downs in the day, this was a wonderful way to end the day.

Exceptional Parents, how many times have your Exceptional Children surprised you by doing something incredible? Remember in that moment, that is who they are, and what they are capable of. You must never lose sight of their potential, or your own, as their Exceptional Parent. When you have tough days and moments, remember that is what you are working with them to bring out all the time. It will come as they learn how to manage their emotion and their strengths. Until next time.